People have a lot of ways of talking about their mistakes. Skeletons in the closet, dirty laundry, notches in a bedpost… you name it, there’s an easier, less incriminating way to say it. I, for one, have made countless mistakes. I’ve said things I shouldn’t have, done things I really wish I hadn’t, and believed lies I can’t believe I didn’t see through. I think anyone can admit they’ve done these things, if they’re honest with themselves.
The thing about mistakes is that they’re hard to forget. Some people believe in a God that forgives all mistakes when you sincerely ask him to, and erases them from your record in a lot of important ways. For those that aren’t so lucky to believe in the perfect way to move beyond mistakes, constant reminders of the bad things we’ve done loom around street corners and the corners of our thoughts.
Those reminders are where we find our regrets, our secondguesses, and those never-ending replay scenarios, teasing us with the idea of getting through a certain moment or conversation or day in a different, better way. I always hear people talking about living outside of regret, as constant fighters for the notion that everything is meant to be, both the things that hurt and the things that strengthen. To them, things happen, and looking back on them regretfully is a waste of time.
I don’t know if I believe that everything happens for a reason. I used to, but it recently came to my attention that maybe, just maybe, every little thing that happens isn’t part of some master plan that can all be connected together. Maybe there is such a thing as an isolated incident, an exception to a rule. Maybe just because a person has the potential to do something horrible to someone else doesn’t mean there’s no hope for them. Maybe mistakes don’t define who you are; they just show you what it feels like to walk in a direction you were never made to.
I hope so, because as intelligent as I think it is to learn from the past and let it go, I do have regrets. I have done things I wish I hadn’t done. But the lessons I learned from those mistakes were real, and I might never have learned them if I hadn’t gotten hurt in the process.